Psychology of Yoga and Meditation
16 DECEMBER 1938 Psychology of Meditation Yoga Lecture 7
Today is the last lecture in the old year. The new term starts on 13 January 1939.
The title of the book by Prof. Zimmer is: Artistic Form and Yoga in the Sacred Images of India, published in 1926. It is interesting thanks to Zimmer’s comprehensive knowledge, especially his portrayal of the circumambulatory path.
Last time we paused at the beginning of the Tibetan text of the Shrî-chakra-sambhâra Tantra.
We want to try to further immerse ourselves in this text.
I have already said that this is not very easy to understand. It requires a lot of commentary.
But if we take the trouble to penetrate into its secrets, you will learn a great deal from it.
We closed with the mantra Shrî Heruka aham—“I am the holy Heruka”—being the Lord of this mandala that the worshipper must create.
Now the text prescribes to the yogin that he should dissect this mantra into syllables, or at least into single parts, in order to make the meaning of the sacred sentence so clear that the yogin grasps the full meaning of what has been said.
So, he must deconstruct the whole text, these three words, until he clearly realizes what the sentence wishes to instill.
So he may not simply say “Shrî Heruka aham,” but must contemplate with great effort what the sentence actually asserts.
This is a highly typical Eastern exercise.
Shrî is non-dual experience … [SCST, p. 3]
Advaita means non-dual, therefore “two-less.”
So, for example, it is said of Brahman, the world principle: apart from it there is no other.
So already with the expression of the prefix syllable shrî, the yogin must realize that his “two-lessness” is being expressed, that there is nothing apart from him.
Then the word Heruka is dissected into individual syllables.
“He” is the cause and the void or Dhatu. [SCST, p. 3]
Dhâtu means element, principle. Literally therefore: “He” is the cause of the element, of the original element, of the principle—and the principle in this philosophy is shûnyatâ, i.e., the void.
This void is naturally only from the perspective of the beholder because he sees nothing within it.
Yet it is also a fullness and even the absolute fullness.
So, by uttering the syllable “he,” the yogin must realize that he is not only the two-less, but also the original state of all things.
“Ru” is uncompounded. [SCST, p. 3]
“Ru” is free of connections.
It is the absolutely non-dual, since it is the original letter.
“Ka” is not abiding anywhere. [SCST, p. 3]
“Ka” abides nowhere and is everywhere.
It is the essence of the world, concentrated nowhere but present everywhere.
One being permeating everything, the so-called Buddha essence diffused through the whole world.
With these four syllables he realizes the fact that he is the original being that is absolutely simple and omnipresent.
Thinking oneself to be the Self which embodies all these.… [SCST, pp. 3–4]
To our Western understanding, this is naturally a rather bold impertinence.
For by Self, we understand what we describe by pointing the finger at ourselves.
Our Self seems to us the most defined, singular thing, since only an individual can say of itself that it is the Self.
Yet is this Self supposed to be the original being that is uncompounded yet also dispersed through the entire world?
Indeed, he should think that he is the Self that embodies all this, namely all these
syllables which the text has previously elucidated. …, whatsoever a man says is Mantra. [SCST, p. 3]
Here’s another sentence that causes the Westerner categorical difficulties.
For we are used to the idea that whatever a man says is human, all too human.
“So, whoever said so and so is after all only a man, and he simply said so and so.”
Yet here it is the man who conceives of himself as the Self, Self as the primal source of all things, of the world’s very being no less, beside which there is no other.
To be sure, one could also say that this is an exorbitant exaggeration.
Even an enormous delusion of grandeur.
One strikes a great note when making such an audacious claim with one’s modest Self. But if we want to do the East justice we must understand that through just such a means a particular psychological experience is being realized.
In fact, we in the West can also have similar experiences, namely the unmediated relationship to the godhead experienced in Christian mysticism.
We spoke recently about these parallels between the Buddha and the inner Christ of Western mysticism.
When a person has come into this state under these conditions, that he is the Self—âtman, then everything he might utter is holy utterance.
A holy sentence, a holy truth about something that one must repeatedly chant to oneself.
The mantra is a magical saying. For this reason, it is always used as an incantation.
If one wishes to enchant something, one needs a mantra.
Applied to oneself, it operates like suggestion directed towards one’s own soul.
After the introduction the text continues:
Let him imagine in the center of his own heart the letter “A” evolved from the experience which knows that forms are unreal. [SCST, p. 4]
A is the first letter of aham, i.e., I.
What is being expressed is that the I is also a form that is unreal.
The text here: “out of the experience that forms are unreal” is a paraphrase, for in fact it
literally it says: “It is non-thinking knowledge, it is jnâna knowledge.”
The technical expression shûnyatâ jnâna, the knowledge that all forms are shûnyatâ, i.e., empty, including the I-form.
In fact, Buddhism believes that there is no individual soul.
In Ceylon there is a mantra that is quite popular.
If two cart drivers in Europe were to crash their carts into each other, they would curse.
But the Indian says: All disturbance is temporary.
No one gets worked up. The I is an illusion.
You can easily imagine that such a culture has something going for it.
The text continues:
On it let him think of the clear Lunar disc which symbolises world-experience, … [SCST, 4]
This is again a paraphrase. It actually means: vishaya jnâna.
This is the world acquaintance with objects, a dubious knowledge.
For this reason, it is connected with the moon.
It is well-known that the moon has a particular relationship to the mind or manas.
There is an Upanishad text: “The moon was engendered from his mind.”
So sort of: the moon-mind.
You know what the moon can do to a landscape: it enchants it, renders everything in a peculiar mysterious light.
When the yogin imagines the bright lunar disc, he is saying that all knowledge is doubt,
deceptive, like moonlight.
The word manas is linked to the Middle High German name for the moon: “mane.”
Also, both the English word “mind” and the German “Mensch” are linked with
this root. … and upon that the Mantra “hûm,” … [SCST, p. 4]
The second syllable of aham, “ham,” is reinterpreted as the mantra “hûm,” that well-known mystical syllable, corresponding to “Om.”
“Om” is the call, “hûm” mostly comes at the end.
This “ham” thus becomes the mystical syllable “hûm.” … which symbolizes mind devoid of objective content. [SCST, p. 4]
A consciousness that is nothing but subjective, naturally with the label “questionable,” since these are transient illusions.
It is an illusion because the I-soul does not exist; it is purely and simply an illusory form.
Of this “Ham” the letter “U” stands for the knowledge which accomplishes all works; the
body of the letter “H” for that knowledge which distinguishes; the top of the letter “H” for the equalizing knowledge; … [SCST, pp. 4–5]
Samatâ jnana, sameness, stands for analogy knowledge.
… the crescent (Chandra) for the mirror-like knowledge; … [SCST, p. 5]
Where the half-moon comes in is questionable.
The whole is based upon the spelling of the word “hûm,” and the spelling is not clear from this text.
There is no half-moon in the spelling.
It could refer perhaps to Tibetan script.
… and the Bindu (Thiglé261) above that for the changeless knowledge. [SCST, p. 5]
The point does come in fact “above” in the spelling of this word, standing over the “h” of the “hûm.”
It has a particular meaning in Tantric Buddhism.
In India it always means the Ishvara, i.e., the lord, also Shiva, the creator and destroyer.
In Tibetan the point means the ultimate truth, a concept encountered in Bardo Thödol, the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
It is the dharmakâya, the body of ultimate truth.
In this depiction you find an entire psychology, namely different aspects of consciousness and of the type of knowledge.
I do not wish to go into detail here. That would take us too far.
But it entirely makes sense to become acquainted with and to explore which aspects of consciousness are given through this representation.
To speak now only of this changeless knowledge, this Dharma-Dhâtu-Jnâna.
Dharma is the law, dhâtu is the element.
So, it is a question of the knowledge of the nature principle, the knowledge of the world principle.
This is the knowledge of reality that holds different things to be not separate but all of the same Buddha essence that emanates through the whole world.
In other words, that they are all the Self.
Meditation on these different parts of the Mantra symbolizing the mind is the method by which the latter is qualified for pure experience and enjoys the bliss which arises from contemplation on the bliss of the divine mind. [SCST, pp. 5–6]
So, it is therefore an actual analysis of consciousness being completed by the yogin here.
From the Mantra “Hum” rays of blue, green, red, and yellow light shoot forth through the four heads of the Devata and gradually fill the whole universe. [SCST, p. 6]
Hence you must imagine that the yogin is located in a magic circle with a square arrangement:
Four points depicting the horizon.
The yogi in the center. Here he speaks the mystical syllable “hûm.”
It depicts a quality of consciousness, namely initial consciousness, the original
consciousness, representing the world principle itself.
The four colors disseminate from this consciousness in four different directions.
These colors are qualities of consciousness; we would say: functions of consciousness—the four possible functions of consciousness that I have amply covered in this lecture.
What is depicted here in a vivid form is simply psychology.
These rays permeate the four heads of the devatâ.
It is thought of as four divine beings that are permeated by this radiant light.
From there, these rays gradually fill the universe, i.e., via this magic circle they go out into the whole world.
An image arises like the one we already encountered earlier.
Then think in the following order:—“May all sentient beings enjoy happiness and be
endowed with the cause thereof”—“May they be freed of all pain and of the causes thereof”—“May they never be separated from the highest happiness”—“May they be free both of attachment as well as hatred, and may they have all their eight worldly wishes pruned and leveled.”
Think fully on these wishes in their order the one after the other.
Then snapping the thumb and middle finger of the left hands and pointing the latter in the ten directions. [SCST, p. 6]
These are the four points of the compass, the four winds and the intermediate positions in addition, then the zenith and the nadir.
The movement thus embraces the whole horizon, as well as above and below.
This peculiar gesture is of course very strange to us. In Indian and Tibetan ritual, these things are still in use.
But from antiquity we have a very nice piece of evidence of this in the Mithras liturgy (second century AD):
After you have repeated the second prayer, in which Silence is called for twice, whistle
twice and snap your fingers twice and you will at once see stars coming forward from the disc of the sun, many, many stars, five pointed, filling the whole air.
Say again “Silence, silence” and when the disc of the sun has opened you will behold an infinite circle and fiery doors that are closed.
This is a similar idea.
Magical significance is attributed to these sounds, and in the Mithras liturgy the significance is apotropaic, i.e., defensive.
In another place it says: “Then give a long whistle and snap your fingers and speak + and then you will see, how graciously the gods look upon you, no longer pressing themselves against you but going rather to the scene of their own activity.”
This is obviously a placatory gesture.
One makes it towards dogs—a prohibitory gesture to prevent the gods from approaching in a threatening way.
These ideas have become extraordinarily foreign to us today.
But they are frequently attested to.
In Tibetan Buddhism on the other hand, these primal ideas are still present.
In this case it is also a prohibitory gesture, which somehow favorably propitiates the gods and wards off or deflects harmful effects: … let him think it to be such directions and repeat the Mantra “Sukhe bhav … antu” (Be happy). [SCST, p. 6]
This is the meditation on the four beings, i.e., the four states of dhyâna. It is therefore a
meritorious action and at the same time a prohibitory one, a warding off of the world powers.
This points to the idea that this whole practice evidently has its secret dangers. We see this for example in the Mithras liturgy.
Naturally, in a Buddhist text this danger should not be exaggerated, or else it would be proof that meditation has no effect.
Otherwise it would come to light that a meditator is not non-dual, and that therefore there are others who could harm him.
This is normally the case with these procedures.
Recall the magic circles of the mediaeval sorcerer.
He did it in order to ensure his aloneness. For he was convinced that if one wishes to dig for his treasures, there are evil spirits around that could grab, harm, or even kill him because he is evidently in a vulnerable state.
In the Mithras liturgy from the second century CE this is still quite clear.
The text says:
But you will see how the gods fix their eyes upon you and press themselves against you.
Then lay your forefinger on your lips and say: “Silence! Silence! Silence!” the sign of the
living, immortal god, “Protect me, Silence!”
He has succeeded in invoking the threat of powers.
Now we don’t learn anything else of these powers here because that would be against the system.
For when the yogin has ensured that he is non-dual, there can be nothing more threatening.
But the placatory twisting of the fingers has remained from a time when the gods existed theriomorphically, i.e., where those parts of human psychology that appear to us to be non-human are projected into animals where we encounter them as animals.
When the native Americans say there were animals that were not normal animals, they are saying that sometimes animals have behavior attributed to them, which in fact could only have been attributed to humans.
The coyote is a very shy animal.
When a coyote runs through the village in broad daylight, the whole world is convinced that it is a doctor coyote, a cursed medicine man, i.e., a supernatural being, not a normal animal.
Many animals have such a particular way of being.
Then the fear immediately arises that it could be humanlike, in other words, a divine being, a demon.
Then invocation ceremonies must be held.
If an anteater is seen by the light of day in East Africa, then the whole population gets worked up.
That is as extraordinary as if water would run uphill.
The whole village stampedes in order to bury this animal at a depth of five or six meters.
Great sacrifices must be offered because the animal has contravened the natural order, and anything could happen.
And thus the cycle is embedded in nature. Such animals are divine.
The animal forms are there because the animals imagine about us what we do not like to imagine about ourselves.
This is why the gods also have giraffe and elephant heads, because these are psychological things that are not human.
They are still alive among primitives.
In the Mithras liturgy, one finds gods with bulls’ heads.
In the Christian church, animals represent the gospel evangelists, or they are even depicted with animals’ heads:
Mark with a lion’s head, Luke with an ox’s head etc.
Exactly like the ancient Egyptian gods.
These are simply residues from a time when the gods had animal forms.
If a god is said to be a bird, e.g., Ra Horus as falcon, then this is more a façon de parler.
It is a falcon, a bird which, through its particular behavior, impresses man as being a god.
From this we get our Christian animal symbolism that is so striking to Eastern people.
After a trip to England, an educated Indian wrote: “Christianity is an animal cult.”
That’s because he saw birds everywhere in it, or the dove, or sheep—meaning the symbolism of the lamb.
The dove of the holy ghost, the eagle bearing up the lectern, the gospel animals, all led him to the idea of the animal cult.
This seemed absolutely astonishing to him because in Indian temples human figures play a much greater role, “Yes, maybe four- or ten-armed.”
There is a god with an elephant’s head, but that is fairly esoteric, whereas in our own setting we have the Romanesque capitals in the Lombard churches where typically one blood sport sees off another.
With us these things have been repudiated only very slowly, whereas in Buddhism,
which is a highly spiritual religion, they retreat strongly into the background.
The text continues:
Again think that rays of various colored light beam forth from the Mantra “Hum” filling
the whole body and shining there out in vast space, cleansing the sins and ignorance and the propensities born of habit of all sentient beings, changing them all into myriad forms of Khorlo-Demchog. [SCST, pp. 6–7]
Thus the holy chakra as the ultimate form of blessedness.
Then having withdrawn inwards all the rays of light and absorbed them into one’s own self, meditate again as follows: … [SCST, p. 7]
So now it is a question of this radiant light that was there only so that he could see that he was a non-dual being reabsorbed into itself.
We return to the center, i.e., the whole world emanation must be reabsorbed.
Let the worshipper think that Rûpa-skandha to be Vairochana; [SCST, p. 7]
Rûpa is the form, skandha is the element.
Again, this is also a psychological term of the East:
the form element. It is this element that initiates forms, thus: forms of imagination, ideas.
The Rûpa-skandha is Vairochana, so one of those beings who are called to once become a Buddha, thus one of the great bodhisattvas. …; his Vedâna-skandha to be Vajra-sûryya; … [SCST, p. 7]
Vedâna-skandha is the element of the senses. Vajra-sûryya is the diamond sun.
This amounts to analysis of consciousness. …; his Samjnâ-skandha to be Padme-nateshvara; … [SCST, p. 7]
Samjnâ-skandha is the feeling element.
Whether samjnâ can be described as a feeling, I do not know, it has more the meaning of harmony and understanding. Padme is the lotus; nateshvara is the lord of the dance. …; his Sangskâra-skandha to be Râja-Vajra.… [SCST, p. 7]
Sangskâra-skandha is the instinctual element that differentiates itself from the awareness element.
Râja-Vajra is the royal diamond. … and his Vijnâna-skandha to be Buddha Vajra-sattva. [SCST, p. 7]
The awareness element vijnâna-skandha is the vajra-sattva, the diamond being, the actual ultimate being that emerges from these functions sort of as a key, as a conclusion: the Buddha.
Meditate thus upon all the principles constituting the self as having become each a
Tathâgata: the whole constituting the revered and glorious Heruka. [SCST, p. 7]
The text seeks to establish the quaternity of consciousness in the form of an analysis of
functions, with a fifth, the Buddha element, in the center.
This fifth element serves to dissolve the quaternity, which is still form, in order to bring it into this center, into the innermost being of the yogin, so that he no longer has any distinguishing function of consciousness. ~Carl Jung, Psychology of Yoga Meditation, Page 70-80